Badgers Open Up Title Defence with Win
London Badgers BaseballGreg Bowman
The U18 Canadian Baseball Championship is underway after its first day of competition on Thursday. 10 teams from nine provinces will be duking it out around London this weekend to determine who the best U18 team in the country is.
Thursday evening, Labatt Park hosted the tournament’s opening ceremonies. London baseball mogul, Mike Lumley, MC’d the ceremonies as teams from BC, Saskatchewan, Alberta, Manitoba, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, PEI, Ontario - plus the host London Badgers - walked onto the field in Olympic-like fashion.
Speeches were made by Lumley, Canada Baseball President Jason Dickson, and city councillor Shawn Lewis to officially kick off the event.
The London Badgers are no strangers in this tournament. They have won the last two U18 Championships, and have a chance for a third getting a berth as the host team in this year’s tournament.
The Badgers first game was right after the opening ceremonies, taking on the Etobicoke Rangers who represented Team Ontario. This was a rematch of the Gold Medal game in last year’s tournament, which London prevailed. Etobicoke got their revenge in this year’s Provincial Championship, taking the Ontario crown to play represent the province.
The Rangers had already played once on Thursday, kicking off their round robin 11 hours prior to their game against the Badgers. Etobicoke beat Team Saskatchewan 3-1 in a tight affair.
Conversely, London has arguably the lightest schedule as the host team, with their lone game being against the Rangers under the lights at Labatt Park.
Etobicoke were the ones who had a good start though, jumping ahead in the first inning. Rob Magee and Liam MacPherson both hit doubles in the top of the first to give the Rangers an early 1-0 lead.
On the mound, the Rangers had a strong performance from Lucas Arender. The lefty hadn’t given up a hit through the first two innings, striking out two batters. In the third inning, London finally got to him. After London got a runner in scoring position on a sacrifice bunt, Daniel Boldt hit an RBI single to tie the game 1-1. Anthony Polowick hit a single to put two runners on, where Bad Verhoeven brought them both home with a triple to give the Badgers a 3-0 lead.
London didn’t look back, taking their first game of the tournament 4-2.
“We got one inning, we scored three runs and get another one the next inning. And I think our pitching throughout the game came back and tightened everything down,” said Head Coach Mike Lumley on his team’s win.
London hit two triples in the game, along with two stolen bases. The battle on the base paths will be important for all in this tournament: “It will come to baserunning a lot. Say we make a mistake early, we have a runner in scoring position - you never know,” commented Lumley. “I always tell these guys ‘you don’t have to be fast, you just have to be smart.’”
The Badgers have another light day on Friday, playing just once against Team Quebec at 7pm from Labatt Park.